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The Sustaining Presence — Georgiana Tree West

Dedication and Covenant postcard from TruthUnity
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What Is a Fillmore Center of Practice?

Hi Friends,

A Center of Fillmore Practice is a group of people who gather and support one another in the practice of a Fillmore teaching. They are what I call a Fillmore Fellowship.

Why do you need a center of practice? Because people who don’t row the boat rock the boat. Rocking the boat is fun—sort of like going to a rock concert. But we’re all much better off when we join the band and actually learn to play.

Earlier this week I sent out a post commenting on how a group of discontented congregants can bring down any minister if they are loud enough for a long time. Our shift in Unity churches from centers of practice to faith communities has come home to roost: churches are having a tough time finding a competent minister to serve. It’s now part of our culture.

If you and a few others want to join the band and learn to play, I've got two things to offer today. First is the postcard you see here featuring Georgiana Tree West. Many of you in the United States got this postcard in the mail this week. If you didn’t, then click here and I’ll send you one. By the way, we can thank Georgiana’s grand-daughter Bonnie for sending me the lovely photo of her grandmother as a young woman.

I've also got a short, 15-page pamphlet published by Georgiana in 1943 and sold for 20 cents. Scroll down to read it. The language of the pamphlet may be as retro as the postcard, but don’t be fooled by appearances. The message delivers as much spiritual power today as it did in 1943, when the state of World War II did not look good.

Ten Affirmations for Healthy Congregations If you lead a congregation, I've also got a few Ten Affirmations for Healthy Congregations pocket-sized cards, printed many years ago when I gave a workshop on How Congregants and Ministers Can Achieve High Levels of Religious Commitment, Practice and Life Expression.

This workshop explores ten things that garner high levels of religious commitment. I may run out, but I'll gladly print up more as a postcard (without the embarrassing, inadvertent double entendre).

Georgiana Tree West and Eric Butterworth had long and distinguished tenures at the same center in New York. What they have in common is that their primary mission as ministers was the development of practicing congregants of a consistent spiritual pathway. Yes, they could preach, but their sustaining impact was the congregants who actually put into practice what they preached.

You'll know that a church really wants to rock when you see Fillmore Fellowships listed on their calendar of events.

Mark Hicks
Sunday, June 9, 2023


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Georgiana Tree West The Sustaining Presence cover



New York City
Twenty Cents

The author wishes to express appreciation to Unity School of Christianity for permission to reprint these articles.

We are living today in conditions that try men’s souls. Times such as these bring out the best or the worst in us. Some find in the world’s suffering a challenge to their faith and meet that challenge with strengthened faith. Others, appalled by the situation we are facing, find themselves losing faith.

One rainy day I got into conversation with a taxi driver. He said, “Lady, if this war goes on much longer, and we folks who are minding our own business and only want to be left alone have to keep on fighting, then I’ll know there is no God.” I thought a moment and then answered: “It’s raining; it’s been raining now for three days. If it continues to rain for sometime to come, will you say there is no sun?” There was silence for a moment and then the reply came, “I getcha lady; that’s all you need to say; I’ll think about that a while!”

In the following poem John Oxenham answered the cry “There is no God” that is so often heard in times of adversity:

Never—once—since the world began
Has the sun ever once stopped shining.
His face very often we could not see.
And we grumbled at his inconstancy;
But the clouds were really to blame, not he.
For, behind them, he was shining.

And so—behind life’s darkest clouds,
God’s love is always shining.
We veil it at times with our faithless fears
And darken our sight with our foolish tears.
But in time the atmosphere always clears,
For His love is always shining.

Just as the stormy elements of nature cause the veiling of the sun from man’s sight, even so the stormy elements of his own mind—his fears, doubts, false beliefs—dim the eye of his inner vision and he loses sight of the sustaining Presence.

It is in times of stress and storm that we need to hold fast to our faith, which is the only evidence we have of those great “things not seen.” It is faith that enables us to say with the Psalmist, “If I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.” Any “hell” is the result of a feeling of separation from God; if we can say, “Lo, thou art here,” understanding comes and the most agonizing situations reveal their hidden values, which we take with us as we find the way out through faith.


Many today are needing to feel the sustaining Presence more strongly than ever because their loved ones have been caught in the maelstrom of world events. Some are rebellious because they have sought, unsuccessfully, to claim divine intervention that would release their own loved ones from any participation in these events. They have made the mistake of selfish seeking of avoidance of difficulties, failing utterly to understand that both they and their loved ones will always have problems to solve as long as they dwell in this realm of cause and effect. Jesus never promised us immunity from all earthly problems, but He did promise that the Christ Spirit, which is “the way, and the truth, and the life,” would carry us triumphantly through them.

We cannot live our loved ones’ life for them. They have to live their own life, learn their own lessons, and find their own way of salvation. However we can always be of help when we learn that there is no value in making their fears or heartaches ours but that there is great value in supporting them with the strength of our faith in the sustaining Presence; for this is a faith that protects the one who does not shirk but who fulfills unflinchingly what he honestly believes to be his responsibility, even though his heart may be heavy at the world’s shortsightedness that knows only the way of force. He will remember:

A thousand shall fall at thy side,
And ten thousand at thy right hand;
But it shall not come nigh thee.”

He will be strengthened in whatever task he has to perform by the faith of those who Love him and know this same truth for him.

The Truth student is daily proving the promise of the Scriptures that the protection of God’s presence will withstand any storm. In Ephesians 6:10-18 Paul exhorts us: “Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” Armor symbolizes protection and today, as never before, we need divine protection against what Jesus called the “adversary.” Jesus saw the “devil,” to whom Paul refers, as the sumtotal of all that is adverse to God’s good. In other words, the Devil may be called a conglomeration of evil. We know that a conglomeration is a collection or accumulation. Geologically a “conglomerate” is “a mass formed of fragments,” a number of fragments of different kinds of rock held together by a matrix (usually sandstone). Disintegrate the matrix and the mass falls apart.

Let us carry out the simile. The Devil may be likened to a conglomeration of evil thoughts held together in a matrix of ignorance. Disintegrate the ignorance with the light of understanding and the whole mass falls apart.

We are facing a conglomeration of evil in the world today. It is the same old Devil, but he takes new form with the centuries. Men hold hate, greed, lust for power, cruelty, and selfishness together in a mass of ignorance of God and His laws that forms a stumbling block to progress.

Today, as in Paul’s day, “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but. . . against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Man’s betrayal of his own highest ideals is the cause of all world tragedies. The betrayal always starts in the life of the individual. We need the armor of God for protection against the “adversary” in our own soul as well as in the world around us.


What is the armor of God? According to Paul it is Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, the grace of God, the word of God, prayer. Paul tells us how to put on this armor.

Truth. We are to stand, having first girded our loins with Truth. We know that in our Scriptures the loins are considered the seat of strength. So this phrase can only mean that we arc to be strong in the Truth.

Righteousness. Next we are to “put on the breastplate of righteousness.” “Breastplate” symbolizes the attitude in which we face the world. The word “righteousness” can be broken down into “right-use-ness”; that is, right use of thought, word, and action, which will always lead us into paths of right living. To put it briefly, to put on the “breastplate of righteousness” is to face the world with right action.

Peace. We are to have our feet shod “with the preparation of the gospel of peace.” In other words, we are to walk in ways that make for peace, ways of tolerance, kindliness, unselfishness, justice, and honesty. These are the qualities found in brotherly love and are the necessary preparation for peaceful living. When we learn to exercise these qualities in our daily life we shall not run around crying, “Peace, peace, when there is no peace.” Peace is not something that is bestowed; it is something that is earned by careful and prayerful right action.

Faith. We are to have “the shield of faith.” What can this symbolize but the protection of spiritual power; the divine protection (or shield) interposed by faith between us and all that is adverse to God’s good.

Understanding. We are to put on “the helmet of salvation.” Salvation is of God. The “helmet” symbolizes understanding; so the “helmet of salvation” would be the understanding of God’s saving grace.

Wisdom.. We are to wield “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” The positive word of Truth, which is the word of God, is as a sword cleaving through all ignorance and false appearance.

Prayer. Finally we must “pray without ceasing”; that is, we must refuse the wanderings of mind and stand firmly on the word of God prayerfully acknowledging His power and presence which protects and sustains us always.

There are many ways to pray. All have the same goal in view, a simple childlike acceptance of God’s presence and His power to heal, to provide, and to save. The church, with its labored ritual, has no corner on prayer; neither have Truth students who are seeking earnestly to apply their understanding of the principles of Being. All are but ways of approaching the same goal: simple acceptance of God’s saving presence. Such acceptance seems natural to many unquestioning minds.


A certain woman came to me much troubled because another woman had called her an atheist. It seems that during the course of a conversation the woman had said to her, “What is your religion?”

She had answered, “I haven’t any.”

Whereupon the woman had replied, “So you are an atheist too.”

“I am not,” was the staunch reply. “I have common sense enough to know I have a heavenly Father.”

Whereupon the woman who herself was an atheist had replied, ”I don’t believe in God.”

At this point the woman who thought she had no religion because she was not a member of any religious body, but who firmly believed in God, says that she got still inside and asked God what she should say to this so-called atheist. She was inspired to say to her, “Have you any children?”

“Yes, one son.”

“How would you like to have him go around saying: “I don’t believe in mothers. I’m here, and that’s all there is to it; I don’t have to believe I have a mother.”

“That would be stupid!”

“Well, it’s stupid to say you don’t believe in God. You are alive; you think and feel; something that is alive and can think and feel must have got you here somehow!”

She then went on to tell me how she always talked to God whenever she was in difficulty. She said that she just went off by herself somewhere, got real quiet, and told God how good it always was to be able to visit with Him. Then she told Him that He knew the answer to her present problem, and that she knew perfectly well that He would tell her exactly what to do and would use His power in every way to solve the problem for her. She then said: “You see, I haven’t any religion because I have never joined any sort of religious sect; but I have always known that I have a heavenly Father, and so of course I believe in prayer. Even if I haven’t any religion I certainly am not an atheist, and I don’t like to be called one!”

It was a joy to be able to assure her that she was really a deeply religious person, in the true meaning of the word, because she felt so close to God; for the best that any religion can do for a person is to give him that feeling.

That is the feeling we are all seeking: the assurance of God’s presence. It does not come naturally to many; they have to make with the forgiveness that reaches out the helping hand in brotherly love whenever that hand will be accepted.

Whether we are called upon to go into the front ranks or to stay at home we must gird ourselves with the full armor of God in meeting the Adversary. We must be strong in Truth; strong in our faith in the protection of the Almighty, and the understanding of His saving grace; strong in speaking the positive, constructive, and creative word at all times. We must walk in paths of peace by practicing brotherly love in all our relations to others; above all we must keep bright and shining our realization of our oneness with God.